Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The First All-Robot Nursing Home



I’ve found the perfect can’t-miss investment that’s sure to keep plenty of steady of income rolling in for me for the rest of my life! It’s the first nursing home that’s completely staffed by robots!

We all know that nursing homes are lucrative investments. Lots of people who own and operate them make millions. The only bummer is those pesky labor costs. That’s why the first all-robot nursing home is the answer to every investor’s most fervent prayer. I mean, when you think about it, what do humans who work in nursing homes do that robots can’t do nowadays?

The first such facility recently opened and I attended one of the weekly open houses/tours for potential investors. The only humans in the facility are the patients. I was particularly impressed by the work of the robot physical therapist. That no-nonsense robot marched right in, did a full range of motion on its human patient and marched right out. Very efficient.

The robot CNA was also remarkable. It gave its patent a sponge bath that would rival any human-administered sponge bath. It was also quite adept at giving enemas.

A robot nurse performed the more skilled medical tasks, such as inserting catheters. There was even a robot activities director, a perky little thing that was programmed to lead sing-alongs and call bingo games.

Some of the robots even multitask. One works as a cook, janitor and receptionist. Even our tour guide was a robot.

But the most amazing thing about these robots is that they work in 24/7 for no pay! Working is their sole purpose. They don’t take vacations. They don’t get sick or pregnant. They are unwaveringly dedicated to fulfilling the mission of the nursing home, which, of course, is to make money for the investors.

I know that this may seem like a risky investment in that all this impersonal automation could be a recipe for a whopper of a lawsuit. What if, for example, some sort of glitch happens in the physical therapist and while doing range of motion it rips the poor patient’s leg off? Stranger things have happened.

But don’t worry. All of us potential investors were assured that the lawyers defending the all-robot nursing home against lawsuits are still all humans, and cutthroat humans at that. This is the one job that’s too important to turn over to robots.

So I don’t know about you but I’m getting in on this opportunity on the ground floor. No doubt it’s the wave of the future.





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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How Would I Breathe?


Every night I sleep hooked up to a ventilator. My sleep doctor says if I don’t do that my brain might get deprived of oxygen in my sleep and I might have a heart attack or stroke. That would really suck.

But you know what else really sucks? It costs $800 a month to rent my ventilator from a medical supply company. Fortunately for me, I’m married to a fine woman. She has everything a man like me could want. She’s smart, wise, kind. She has a killer sense of humor and a job with good health insurance.

But what if I wasn’t so fucking lucky that she lets me tag along in her life? Or what if that bit of luck runs out? Or what if she loses her job or whatever? How would I breathe?

If I wanted to keep pursuing my goal of not having a stroke or heart attack in my sleep, I’d have to figure out a way to come up with 800 a month forever. Because I can’t buy the ventilator or rent to buy it or anything like that. I can only rent it month by month forever. Those are the rules.

So I would probably adapt a strategy of saying fuck it. I’d just stop paying the rent. And I wouldn’t feel the teeniest bit guilty about it. My insurance company has probably given the medical supply company enough money to pay for 15 ventilators by now.

What would the medical supply company do? Would they send the ventilator repo man after me? Would he don clever disguises in an attempt to fool me into answering the door? “Congratulations! You’ve won $10 million dollars from Publishers Clearing House!”

Or maybe it works like an eviction. Maybe the sheriff shows up with a warrant to confiscate my ventilator.

But in order to avoid the bad optics of snatching away a crippled old man’s ventilator, the medical supply company would probably bide their time and wait for my machine to break. I'll come crawling back, just like they planned. And then they’d say if I want it fixed, pay up first! And if I don’t pay up they’ll bide their time again and wait for me to have a fatal stroke or heart attack. Either way, they win.

Maybe I should be proactive and get a big, mean dog to guard my ventilator.

Don’t you just love capitalism?



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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Black Out



I’m sure we all have those scary moments when we look back on our lives and realize there are some things we did that we have no memory of doing. It’s like when you mysteriously wake up naked in bed next to a naked stranger and you’ve got a fresh new tattoo on your butt.

That kind of thing happened to me recently when I realized that even though I have absolutely no recollection of it, back when I was in high school I apparently took and passed a test on the U.S. Constitution. I mean, back in those days, the state required that in order to graduate high school, every student had to pass a test on the U.S. Constitution. I graduated high school so that must mean that somewhere along the line I did just that. The school from which I graduated was a state-operated boarding school for cripples which I affectionately refer to as the Sam Houston Institute of Technology (SHIT). Even the inmates of SHIT weren't exempt from learning about the U.S. Constitution before we could graduate. That was quite ironic because considering the crappy quality of the education at SHIT, we probably could have otherwise graduated from there without learning that 2 + 2 = 4.

But like I said, I don’t remember a damn thing about any Constitution test or about the Constitution itself. Ask me any question at all about the Constitution. I guarantee you I won’t know the answer. Go ahead, I dare you. Ask me! Article 3? Don’t ask me. I think the only person that knows less about the Constitution than I do is Clarence Thomas.

Having no recollection of that test or studying for it or anything is pretty scary. Because I wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t passed. Would I still be an inmate at SHIT? Would I be a 62-year-old sophomore? Would they have refused to let me go? That’s no joke to me because I have a recurring nightmare that I’m still stuck at SHIT. I’ve been there like for 50 years! All the other inmates are the same kids that were there when I was but they’re all still like 17-years-old.

I also get pretty scared when I wonder what other things I might have done while blacked out. So if I've done anything shitty to any of you out there that I probably don’t remember please let me know right away, especially if, as a result, I owe you money or I might be your dad. It will be good for me to realize that I owe you restitution, so I can make every effort to avoid you.



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Monday, November 19, 2018

Selling Your Metaphorical Cheeseburger and the Philosophical Importance of Pez

There’s one thing all human beings have in common. Sooner or later, we all have to get out there and sell our cheeseburger, so to speak.

It’s sure true that not all metaphorical cheeseburgers are created equal. The divine creator endowed some people with cheeseburgers that are more succulent and alluring than others. All they have to do is put their cheeseburger out there and everyone jumps all over it. Their cheeseburgers practically sell themselves.

But for the rest of us, we have to figure out how to convince others to buy our seemingly ordinary cheeseburger, whatever our particular cheeseburger may be. What strategy shall we employ?

It’s like Pez. Pez is just a shitty little hunk of sugar nobody would buy if it was wrapped in a package like gum. But if you put Pez in a plastic dispenser with the head of a clown or a Marvel comics superhero on top, kids eat it up. I would say Pez proves that what matters most is not what you’re selling but how you sell it. But that blanket conclusion may not withstand deep philosophical scrutiny. Would the dispenser be as effective if it was full of broccoli?

But for the most part, successfully selling your cheeseburger is in the delivery. Here in Chicago we have one of those Rainforest Cafes. Right outside the entrance are a couple giant plaster toadstools. Inside the Rainforest Café it’s a climate-controlled jungle, with plaster elephants and such. It’s all the fun stuff about being in the jungle without the scary stuff. There aren’t venomous snakes slithering around your feet or anything like that. The Rainforest Cafe is pretty hoaky, but who can blame whoever thought it up? It's all just an elaborate strategy for selling a cheeseburger. Desperate times require desperate measures.

It’s like this Abe-Lincoln-themed restaurant I went too once. The décor was pseudo 1860s and the menu items all had a Lincoln twist, like Mary Todd fries. I resisted the urge to ask the hostess if I could sit in the John Wilkes booth. I figured she’d heard that one a million times before. But in an Abe-Lincoln-themed restaurant, you can call a cheeseburger something like an emancipation burger and that makes it special, even though it’s still just a cheeseburger.

Comparing living life to trying to sell a cheeseburger may seem like a cynical outlook to some. But I disagree. At least I didn’t compare it to trying to sell broccoli.




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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Constant Need for Invalidation


It’s kind of like when you get your parking validated, except it’s the opposite. When you get your parking validated, someone stamps “valid” on your ticket and you’re good to go.

This is more like getting invalidated. Every cripple plays this game sooner or later. Broke ass cripples play it the most. If they want to get Social Security or Medicaid or Medicare or any of the stuff that broke ass cripples can’t live without, they’ll need to play the invalidation game. They’ll need to collect sufficient documentation that they are crippled enough to qualify and then take it to an office in the hopes that some official person will stamp “invalid” on it and they will be good to go.

I’m not a broke ass cripple, as broke ass cripple standards go, but I still have to play the invalidation game at least once a year. If I want the state to keep paying the wages of the crew of people I hire to come to my home and put me on the crapper and wash my armpits etc., I have to prove to the state every year that I’m still just as crippled as I was last time they checked.


A doctor has to officially sign off on any invalidation. If my wheelchair needs fixing and I want my insurance to pay for it, for example, I need my doctor to certify that the replacement part is medically necessary. My doctor and I find this amusing, since he doesn’t know a wheelchair part from his grandma’s elbow. So he takes my word for it and signs off.

But even rich cripples can’t get out of playing the invalidation game. They have to play it if they want to get a cripple license plate or property tax break or any of the stuff rich cripples can’t live without.

Sometimes playing the invalidation game is like being a contestant on a game show and winning lots and lots of money, except it’s the opposite. When you’re a winning contestant on a game show, you go home with lots and lots of extra money. But if you’re playing the invalidation game, it’s like being on a sadistic game show where they take all of your money. Sometimes the object of the invalidation game is to blow all your money until you’re broke ass enough to qualify for something like Social Security or Medicaid. And the state will be monitoring you to make sure you stay broke ass, so don’t try any funny business.

Poor cripples. We just can’t live without the invalidation of others.





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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Cool Stuff I Got Because I Bitched (Volume One)

One thing I've learned from crippledom is that it pays to bitch, sometimes. Actually, a lot of times you bitch and bitch and it doesn’t do any good. But you never know when bitching might pay off, so you might as well take a shot.

I’ve gotten a lot of cool stuff that I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t bitched. Here’s some of it:

An upgrade to the President Taft Suite at the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver: And I got it for the Holiday Inn price. I went to Denver so I made a reservation at a chain hotel. I think it was a Holiday Inn. And when I got there my room was the worst excuse I ever saw for a cripple accessible room. And I’ve seen some doozies.

So I went down to the front desk and I bitched. And in order to make it up to me, they set me up with a suite at the Brown Palace Hotel down the street. I don’t know who paid the sizable difference in price but it wasn’t me so I don’t care.

The Brown Palace opened in 1892. It’s one of those elegant old hotels with a majestic, marble staircase and lots of lattice work.

The suite was roomy and warm and comfy. I called it the President Taft suite. That wasn’t the name of it but I called it that because staying there made me feel like President Taft for some reason. The suite just had that certain President Taft décor and air. It seemed like the kind of place Taft would’ve stayed if he went to Denver.

It beat the hell out a cramped room at the Holiday Inn.

A Free Sleeper car on AMTRAK : I made a reservation to get to Indianapolis on AMTRAK. But when I got to the train station I learned that some genius at AMTRAK cancelled the train and sent all the passengers to Indy on a bus instead. The bus had a lift on it but there was only one space for a wheelchair inside the bus and some other cripple beat me to it.

So I was SOL and there wasn’t another train to Indy for 24 hours.

So I bitched. Oh sweet Lord did I bitch. I bitched up a hurricane! So the AMTRAK lady set me up for free on the train leaving soon for New Orleans. The closest it came to Indianapolis was Effingham, Illinois, which meant somebody had to drive two hours there from Indy to pick me up. But it was the best I could get without waiting until the next day so I took it, especially after the AMTRAK lady threw in a free sleeper car, food and drinks to sweeten the pot.

I put my feet up on the bed in the sleeper car and ordered their most expensive meal and champagne. The only bummer was that it only took about three hours to get to Effingham, so I had to eat, sleep and relax fast.

But all this goes to show that good things come to those who bitch. I believe it says that in the Bible.


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Saturday, October 27, 2018

EMH?


The guy bagging my groceries might have been what they used to call an EMH guy.

That’s what they called some kids at the segregated public elementary school for cripples I attended. EMH. It stood for Educable Mentally Handicapped. Nobody calls them that anymore. Nobody uses the word handicapped anymore. And I’m glad because I hate that word. A lot of people hate that word for a lot of different reasons. But I hate it because it sounds so whiny. You can’t say “I’m handicapped” without sounding whiny, unless you put on a fake British Alfred Hitchcock accent or something.

EMH was what they called the kids in the cripple school who weren’t physically crippled, except for the Down syndrome kids. There was a name for them. They were called Mongoloids. Let’s pause for a minute to unpack that word, shall we? The suffix oid means like, as in resembling. But it carries the connotations of being a cheap imitation of that which it resembles. So a Mongoloid was a cheap imitation of someone from Mongolia.

Everybody knew what to call the Down syndrome kids because they looked alike. But as for all the other kids who went to the cripple school but weren’t physically crippled and didn't look like Down syndrome kids, everyone just shrugged and called them EMH.

The guy bagging my groceries looked a lot younger than me. I wondered where he went to school? Because he had that EMH way about him, which back when I was a kid would’ve been grounds enough to ship him off to the cripple school. The EMH classroom was a segregated school within a segregated school. I don’t remember even being in the lunchroom with the EMH kids. Maybe there was a separate EMH lunchtime. None of us knew what went on inside the mysterious and spooky EMH classroom. We were just told that if EMH people went to school long enough, they might someday learn to do something like bag groceries. That was opposed to the TMH kids, which stood for Trainable Mentally Handicapped. If TMH kids went to school long enough, we were told, they might someday learn to do something like tie their shoes. We had no idea what kind of school TMH kids went to. There were none of them at our segregated cripple school.

I bought a six pack at the grocery store. The cashier was too young to ring it up. So he stepped back and the EMH guy went behind the cash register and rang me up.

Wow, back when I was in cripple school, I never thought I’d see a day when they’d let an EMH guy take charge like that.



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Friday, October 19, 2018

Please Give Generously to the NAACP



Every year I make a donation to an organization that does very important work. It’s the NAACP, which stands for the National Association of Assholes with Cerebral Palsy.

The NAACP has done a lot to advance public understanding of cripples. Membership in this organization is open to anyone who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and is an asshole. The proud founder of the NAACP is a guy named Bill. But everybody calls him Hugh because he goes by his professional name, Hugh Jassole. He has cerebral palsy. He walks funny and talks funny and he’s spastic as all hell. But that has never stopped him from being an asshole. Just ask his college roommates. They’ll tell you that whenever they left their carryout food in the refrigerator, Hugh always ate it. After Hugh dropped out of college, he was fortunate enough to meet and marry the woman of his dreams. And then he dumped her for a 17-year-old cheerleader named Britney, whom he later dumped at the airport in Reno. After they picked up their luggage, Hugh told Britney he was going to the bathroom, but instead he caught a flight to the Bahamas.

You can read all this and more in Hugh’s bio, which is featured prominently on the NAACP website. The bio says Hugh begins every day with an affirmation. He calls a random poor sap working customer service, argues with them and demands to speak to their supervisor.

You may be asking yourself how I could possibly admire a guy like that. And the answer is, I don’t. He’s an asshole. And that’s why I think his work is so important. Most people don’t expect someone as crippled as Hugh to be such an asshole. They expect them to be passive and polite and deferential. But the NAACP is here to remind us all that cripples can be assholes, too, just like everybody else.

This is a hard message that a lot of people don’t want to hear, so the NAACP diligently works year-round to drive it home. At their annual convention, they all get together and act like assholes. NAACP members always bring their pet dogs just so they can walk them around the convention center parking lot and leave their shit lying around. This is an important NAACP ritual. Members who don’t have pet dogs are expected to rent one for the weekend. And speaking of parking lots, anybody with a wheelchair license plate on their vehicle who wants to park in a space reversed for vehicles with wheelchair license plates will be SOL because those spaces will be hogged up by NAACP members who don’t have wheelchair license plates on their vehicles. The same goes for bathrooms. NAACP members who aren’t wheelchair cripples make it a point to hog up all the wheelchair stalls.

At NAACP conventions, everyone must speak nothing but English. No languages from foreign countries! Also, NAACP members never tip. This is sacred rule number one. And, if at the end of the weekend the convention center staff say, “God, what a bunch of assholes,” then its mission accomplished!

So please give generously to the NAACP. You can do so by clicking the Donate button below. You can count on me to pass it on to them.



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Friday, October 12, 2018

A Jury of my Peers

If I go on trial, should I demand an all-crippled jury? I don’t know. Are all cripples my peers? I hope not. I’ve known some pretty shitty cripples.

I picture this jury of my peers deliberating my fate. It’s like Twelve Angry Men with an all-crippled cast.

But before I could have any crippled jurors at all, there would have to be some serious redesign of the jury box. I’ve never seen a jury box that could accommodate one wheelchair cripple, let alone 12. A jury box that could fit 12 wheelchair cripples would be so massive it would take up most of the courtroom. I suppose it should piss me off that no such jury box exists. Cripples should have equal opportunity to participate in the process of due process and all that. I suppose I should start or join a campaign demanding accessible jury boxes. But I haven’t done that because inaccessible jury boxes give me a great excuse for getting out of jury duty. It’s the same reason I’ve never started or joined a campaign demanding accessible churches.

But maybe I wouldn’t be so cavalier about inaccessible jury boxes if I was a defendant. I never thought about it from that angle. But what type of crippled juror would I want? Probably not someone who’s a lot less crippled than I am because a lot of times the slightly crippled go way out of their way to distance themselves from crippledom. So just to prove to themselves and everyone else that they are not of my tribe, they may well vote to give me the death penalty, even if it’s just a parking violation. And having a juror who’s way more crippled than I am may not be such a good idea either. They may say to themselves, “You think you got problems? Look how crippled I am. Quit whining!”

Would I want a crippled judge? Maybe not. That might be like having your dad as your basketball coach. It may seem like Easy Street, but he might ride your ass harder than anyone’s so no one will accuse him of being partial. I know I wouldn’t want that fascist governor of Texas as my judge, even if he is in a wheelchair. A fascist is a fascist is a fascist, crippled or not. What about Larry Flynt? I might take him as a judge, depending on what I was charged with. But I’d take my chances with Larry Flynt over that fascist governor of Texas any day.

See, it’s impossible for a cripple to find justice in America.




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Friday, October 5, 2018

Say the Pledge, Dammit!


There’s an 18-year-old in Texas who’s suing the school district in which she attended school because, she says, she was kicked out of high school for refusing to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance. Texas law requires students to say the pledge in class unless their parents opt them out.

When I was a kid at the segregated public school for cripplets in the 1960s, even we weren’t exempt from saying the pledge. We said it in class every day. I don’t know if it was required by law but we all said it anyway. I did it routinely and mindlessly because, to me, it was just a series of words I memorized and mumbled out because adults told me to, like my bedtime prayers.

Rendering the pledge of allegiance in class was a three-part ritual. We were supposed to stand, place our right hand on our heart and recite. I was exempted from step one for obvious reasons. I was happy to have this excuse, not because I was speaking out against U.S. imperialism or racial inequality or anything like that. Geez, I was only in grade school. It was just cool to have an excuse to get me out of doing stuff adults made all the other kids do, whatever it might be. But nobody let me off the hook for steps two and three. The lucky cripplets were the ones who were so crippled that they couldn’t stand or talk or move their arms. I was jealous of those kids. They didn’t have to do shit during the pledge and no adult could do shit about it.

But today, thanks to technology, a kid like that probably wouldn’t get off the hook for the pledge, especially in Texas. Because nowadays, a kid who couldn’t talk might have one of those Stephen Hawking talking boxes. And a kid like me might have one of those walking exoskeletons. And hell, in a state like Texas, where they’re so rabid about shit like the pledge, if I didn’t byo exoskeleton, they’d probably haul one into the classroom daily at pledge time and have a couple physical therapists strap me in it and crank me up into a standing position. And for the kid who can’t talk, they’d probably bring in a talking box with the pledge already programmed in. And they’d make the kid push the button with his/her nose or tongue or something.

No excuses, dammit!



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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Demanding Equal Treatment


Okay I admit that there have been times when I was faced with a situation where I should have stood up and demanded equal treatment for cripples, but I took the easy way out. I don't feel guilty about it, but I do feel guilty about not feeling guilty about it.

Like for instance, there was that time I signed up to be in a focus group. One hundred bucks cash for giving my opinion about some stupid products. So they're giving us all who signed up an orientation and they tell us we’ll have to take extensive notes and stuff like that about the products. I said hold on a minute. I’ll need some accommodation here. Someone has to help me with all that handwriting.

So the people conducting the focus group huddled. Then one of them came up to me and handed me an envelope with two crisp fifty dollar bills inside. She smiled and thanked me for my time and service and dismissed me.

I took the money and left. Now I suppose, for the benefit of the next cripple who might come along after me, I should’ve insisted that the focus group people deal with me. But I had a hard time getting indignant about it. That would’ve been like saying, “How dare you give the same money for doing nothing that everyone else is working for! I demand equal treatment!” I’ll leave that battle for some bold cripple of the future to fight.

It’s like the many times I’ve been riding in an elevator by myself and the door opens and there’s a vert (which is short for vertical, which is what I call people who walk). And even though there’s plenty of room in the elevator, the vert says something like, “Oops, I’ll take the next one.” And the vert backs away and the door closes and the elevator continues on. And at first I say to myself, “What the fuck! I’m just crippled! I’m not Typhoid Mary!” And then I think about how I should go right back to that floor and when the door opens tell that damn vert to get on this elevator with me right now! “How dare you let me have this elevator all to myself!”

That would be pretty stupid, wouldn’t it?





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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

But Whatever You Do, Don't Become Crippled


I’m invited to receive a free meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House! Or at least that’s what it says on the slick card that came in the mail.

There’s a picture of a steak. It looks like a palm-sized filet mignon. Could that be my free meal? Except it’s not exactly free. It’s kind of like when the missionaries come to your village. They’ll help you build huts and all, but you have to sit through the Jesus pitch.

To receive my free meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, I have to attend a “free” financial seminar. I will be introduced to a dazzling array of investment products that will help me secure my financial future. I will receive sound financial advice from a leading expert.

But it makes feel the same way I do after seeing one of those commercials where a leading expert gives someone sound financial advice that helps them plan a strategy for a secure and happy retirement. I wonder if, at the end, the leading expert says, “But whatever you do, don’t become crippled. If you become crippled, all bets are off.”

Suppose you need a motorized wheelchair and an adapted cripple van. That’s about 80 grand right there. There goes a painful chunk of your hard-earned nest egg, unless you’re one of the rare few who doesn’t flinch at 80 grand.

Maybe the government will buy a wheelchair for you, but only after you’ve spent away pretty much everything you have so you’re broke enough to qualify for Medicaid.

And I laugh when I hear governors bragging about the “business-friendly climate” of their state. “Come to our state where taxes are low!” But at the end of that sales pitch, every governor ought to be required to issue the following disclaimer: “But whatever you do, don’t become crippled.”

Suppose you become crippled like me and, like me, you need to hire a crew of people to come into your home and help you get out of bed and stuff like that. The only reason I can afford to do this is because the state pays the wages of my workers. In one of those unabashedly “business-friendly climate” states, the governor is much more likely to say, “’We have no money for things like that. We have to keep the taxes low here.”

Whenever you hear a passionate sermon about how the free market will set everybody free, remember the part they always leave out: “But if you’re crippled, you’re on your own.”



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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Institutions, Institutes and Waste Dumps



Institution sure is a respectable sounding word, isn’t it? If someone says you are an institution, they are trying to pay you a compliment. They are trying to say you are “someone firmly associated with a place or thing.” And that place or thing is always something good, like for instance Broadway theater or the silver screen. We don’t describe Jack the Ripper as a murdering institution.

An institution is, “a significant practice, relationship, or organization in a society or culture.” And again, it’s a respectable practice, relationship or organization-- one that makes a society or culture feel stable and secure, such as the institution of marriage. Nobody ever talks about the institution of divorce.

A prosperous society needs strong institutions. Banks are financial institutions and universities are institutions of higher learning. Where would we be without them?
We have our revered government institutions, like Congress and the courts. We count on them to protect us from chaos, to save us in a time of crisis.

We also have plenty of institutes to go along with all of our institutions. Institutes are also important elements in an advanced and civilized society. They promote our general welfare. How about MIT? And don’t forget the National Institutes of Health.

Institutions and institutes are great things to be and great places to be. So why then do we call those places where they lock cripples up institutions? A whole bunch of states once had Institutions for the Feeble Minded. I bet those weren’t very fun places to be. I bet if those places were named by the people who lived in them, they’d probably not be called institutions. They’d probably be called something like waste dumps: The Kentucky State Waste Dump for the Feeble Minded.

But these places weren’t named after the people who lived in them, thus they were called institutions. To those who didn’t live in them, they served the noble purpose of locking up cripples. A prosperous society needed strong institutions where cripples were locked up. Locking up cripples made everyone feel safe and secure. It protected them from chaos. It promoted the general welfare.

It was pretty much like penal institutions.

The waste dumps where cripples are locked up nowadays don’t usually call themselves institutions anymore. Government-operated waste dumps are usually called developmental or training centers. Nursing homes are called rehabilitation facilities. Big fucking deal. Lipstick on a pig.



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Sunday, September 2, 2018

Abnormalization Quest



A lot of people think it’s important for cripples to normalize ourselves and each other. We should show the uncrippled majority that even though we’re crippled, we’re not much different than they are.

But fuck all that. I think it’s important for me to engage in an abnormalization quest, the goal being to show the uncrippled majority how abnormal I am. But I can’t really call it a quest because a quest implies that you’re going somewhere. On an abnormalization quest, the minute you start you arrive. When you’re trying to be abnormal, you just have to sit wherever you are and be whatever you are.

Trying to normalize yourself is exhausting because what the hell is normal anyway? You never get there. It’s an endless treadmill. Everybody is abnormal. And cripples especially so. Look at me. My legs just hang there useless all day so my ankles swell up. So every day I wear knee-high “anti-embolism” circulation socks. That ain’t normal. The socks look dorky as all hell but you know what? Fuck it. If it’s hot in the summer and I want to wear my goddam shorts, I’m gonna wear my goddam shorts, goddammit! So what if I look like an old crippled dork wearing knee-high anti-embolism socks and sandals.

And there are lots of cripples who are a helluva lot more abnormal than I am.

But I guess I can call it a quest because even though abnormalizing yourself requires just being, that takes work. Trying to stay put can be grueling. There’s a lot of pressure, both peer and otherwise, to get up off your abnormal ass. Some cripple who’s trying to get into Harvard might feel personally offended when I’m out parading around in my shorts because, like it or not, all of us cripples are spokespersons. We’re all emissaries. Everything we do reflects upon the entire crippled race. And cripples like me make it harder for cripples like him to get into Harvard.

But I say fuck Harvard. If they sum me up as being a dork, just because I look like one, then they can shove it up their tight elitist asses!

I’m just gonna sit right here and be abnormal. It won’t be easy, but it beats the alternative.



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Thursday, August 23, 2018

RX: One Hand Job



We all in the U.S. think we’re so goddam high and mighty superior when it comes to cripple access. We think if you’re gonna be a cripple, this is the place to be.

Yeah sure, we’ve got the Americans with Disabilities Act and stuff like that here, but so what? In Taiwan, they have a much better attitude about the rights and needs of cripples than we do. Over there, there’s an organization called Hand Angel. Their mission is to give hand jobs to needy cripples. I’m not kidding. Look it up if you want. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/av4m8p/hand-angel-hand-jobs-taiwan-748

Hand Angel was founded by and is run by cripples. They want to make the point that cripples need access to more than just buildings and public transportation. Cripples, like everyone else, also need access to orgasms. Hand Angel provides that type of access for free. When a Taiwanese cripple successfully makes the case that Hand Angel has to fulfill that need for them, a volunteer is dispatched to give them a hand job.

I don’t think something like that would ever go over here in the States. We’re way too uptight. First of all, the whole would instantly get ridiculously medicalized, which would ruin it all. For liability purposes, every cripple seeking help from Hand Angel U.S.A would probably be required to get a prescription from a doctor. (RX: one hand job.)

A non-profit like Hand Angel would go broke here. This ain’t no Special Olympics. The Special Olympics has corporate sponsors up the ass. But who would want their precious corporate logo associated with the mission of giving cripples hand jobs? Not even Starbucks.

And how else would Hand Angel U.S.A convince Americans to give them money in a way we’d understand? Would they have a telethon? Would they have commercials like the ASPCA, with the slow montage of sad and neglected dogs in desperate need of a home? Except it would be a slow montage of sad and neglected cripples in desperate need of a hand job.

None of that would work. Here in the U.S., we’re stuck in the 20th Century. The ADA may make access to thing like buildings and public transportation a lot easier for cripples. But does it make access to hand jobs any easier? Which Title covers that?


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Friday, August 17, 2018

Hiring Marlene (Without Quotation Marks)


The fact that I’m writing the name Marlene here without putting it in quotation marks shows how much I’ve evolved. There was a time when I would’ve done that, just to be snarky.

But the way I see it now, it’s like me calling myself cripple. If that’s what I want to call myself, I don’t have to give a goddam PowerPoint presentation explaining my rationale. Just shut up and let me call myself whatever the hell I want.

So if someone who clearly sounds like a man on the phone tells me their name is Marlene, who am I to resist? They don’t need me to sign off on it for it to be official.

Marlene answered my ad seeking people to join my pit crew, which is what I call the crew of people I hire to get me out of bed, wash my armpits, etc. Throughout the years, I’ve probably had 100 or so pit crew members. Most have been males. A few females. I’ve had a helluva cast of characters. I had a Cambodian refugee, who risked his life to escape the Pol Pot bullshit but only lasted a week working for me. One guy got me out of bed and washed my armpits by day and played cello in a string quartet by night. I had a world–renown pagan high priest, whose other job was doing psychic readings in an occult bookstore. I’ve had guys with tattoos all over. Years ago, as I hustled around the U.S. Capitol lobbying Congresspersons about cripple stuff, I was accompanied by a pit crew member whose dreadlocks were died emerald green.

But I’ve never had someone in transition, like Marlene. Hiring someone like them would say a lot about how amazingly progressive I am. Not only would I consider employing someone like them, I would do so with great enthusiasm. Being in transition would be a plus. I was particularly delighted by the prospect of having Marlene accompany me back to the old neighborhood, so I could show all those fuckers how backwards they all are and how far I’ve left them all behind. When I was a kid, a family with someone like Marlene as a member would’ve probably been firebombed out of the neighborhood. Bringing Marlene around would be as satisfying as bringing a black fiancé home for Thanksgiving, just to rub your racist uncle’s nose in it.

So when Marlene showed up for the interview, I was happy to see that they looked like they were in the early stages of transition. They looked like a long-haired male wearing some makeup. If Marlene was a fully-formed female by now and people saw us going down the street together in the old neighborhood, the impact would be lost. It would just look like I hired a woman, which is no big deal.

I called Marlene’s references and they all said glowing things. And I looked forward to working with Marlene for several years, so we could go back to the old neighborhood several times and force those backwards fuckers to witness the transition slowly taking place. Wouldn’t that be excruciating for them? Ha!

I called Marlene with the great news. “You’re hired!” But Marlene said, “I’ve been offered another job, which I accepted, but thank you anyway. Good luck.”

Well, fine----then----- screw you, I guess.

All that stuff about going back to the old neighborhood was silly anyway. I’ve haven’t gone there for years. No one I know is there anymore. Nobody would give a shit.


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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Smart Ass Cripple's Advice for the FBI

I was rolling through the halls of a medical school when another guy in a wheelchair rolled by. I knew right away he was fake.

It must have been one of those cripple-for-a-day awareness simulations, where someone is assigned to roll around a in a wheelchair all day in a silly attempt to see what it’s like being crippled. As the student doctor rolled down the wide, smooth, obstruction-free hall, he had a tense look on his face like he was walking a tightrope. He should’ve had a sign on the back of his wheelchair that said STUDENT DRIVER.

But that’s not how I knew he was fake. I knew he was fake because both he and the wheelchair were way too clean. He looked like this weird pigeon I once saw. The pigeon looked weird because it had no scuffs or scars. It had no missing toes or matted feathers. No pigeon living in the city looks like that.

So here’s some advice for the FBI, if they happen to be reading this. If you’re planning to send a fake cripple agent provocateur to infiltrate a cripple activist group, have a little pride. Pay attention to detail. Otherwise you’re not gonna fool any real cripple.

You can’t make an instant cripple out of any old vert (which is short for vertical, which is what I call people who walk). You don’t just stick some pretty boy vert in a wheelchair and expect him to pass as a genuine cripple. This ain’t a Hollywood movie.

If your fake cripple spy is in a push wheelchair, make sure they have callouses on their hands. But whatever kind of wheelchair it is, make sure there are cracks and fissures in the upholstery. Make sure there are mud splatters on the frame. The chair needs to look like it wasn’t delivered from the factory to its crippled occupant 10 minutes ago.

It would really help, FBI, if your crippled plant was actually a cripple. It shouldn’t be hard to find people willing to stab their fellow cripples in the back for a few measly bucks. Just get a list of all the broke ass cripples living on Social Security and make some calls.

I imagine, FBI, that you probably won’t be slipping an agitator into a cripple activist group soon. Most cripple activist groups don’t do much more than write letters to legislators. And it’s probably not worth your time to send someone to cajole them into writing angry letters with swear words in them.

But if and when you do infiltrate us, heed my advice if you want to succeed. A professional cripple can smell an amateur a mile away.


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Friday, August 3, 2018

The Inevitable Bloody Clown Brawl



That bloody clown brawl sure was a frightening sight, wasn’t it? It was like a street gang fight, except with clowns. But I’m not surprised it happened, are you? When you think about how things are going these days, it seems inevitable.

I mean, when the circus boss tried to cut the clowns’ pay and take away their meager health insurance coverage, that was the last fucking straw! Clowns are paid shit as it is and there is no upward mobility. You don’t become a clown vice president for the Midwest region or anything like that. A clown’s a clown. And when the Labor Department takes those surveys to determine the most dangerous jobs, they never include clowns. If they did, clowns would be right up there at the top. The number of workplace injuries is astoundingly high for clowns, what with all the pratfalls and all.

There’s no way a clown can live without health insurance. So when the circus boss tried to fuck them over like that, who could blame the clowns for walking out in the middle of a Sunday matinee circus performance and going on strike? It sure was moving to see those clowns proudly picketing. Sure, the children witnessing it all looked mighty confused. But it was one of those teachable moments.

Of course the circus boss retaliated in the manner everyone should’ve suspected he would. He called the temp agency and tried to bring in scab clowns. It wasn’t hard for the circus boss to find people willing to sign up to be clowns for minimum wage and no benefits, after all the layoffs at the mill.

When the busload of scab clowns pulled up to the entrance of the circus tent, tensions were at a peak. The striking clowns locked arms and stood their ground. So the circus boss called in his squadron of strike-breaking Pinkerton goons. It wasn’t hard for the circus boss to find people willing to sign up to be strike-breaking Pinkerton goons for minimum wage and no benefits, after all the layoffs at the mill.

What ensued was not pretty. The Pinkerton goons knocked the striking clowns down like bowling pins by spraying them with fire hoses. And the striking clowns were no match for them, firing back with seltzer bottles. The scab clowns attacked. They beat the striking clowns senseless with lead-filled rubber chickens.

But then a scab clown shouted “WAAAAAIT!” The brawling stopped. “Why are we fighting each other?” the scab clown said. “In ten years, we’re all gonna be replaced by robots anyway.”

The scab clown was spot on. Someday soon, at a 5 year old’s birthday party in some suburb, the doorbell will ring. And in will roll a robot clown.

The scab clowns and striking clowns all hugged each other. Then they all went to a bar. Sure, the children witnessing it all looked mighty confused. But it was one of those teachable moments.


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Friday, July 27, 2018

Reclaiming the "R" Word

There was a successful media campaign a few years ago to officially banish the “r" word. People that used to be called “r”d are now to be known as intellectually disabled. (From here on out I will refer to them as ID people because I’m really fucking lazy. Besides, I’m not being paid by the word so fuck it.)

But often, when words are forced into exile like that, they make a limited comeback. Things evolve and some people who used to be called by the banished word move to reclaim it.

Lord knows I do that with the word cripple. I call myself and lots of other cripples cripple all the time. I don’t call every cripple I know cripple. Only the ones who can take it. I even let some people who aren’t crippled call me cripple sometimes. I call these people my honorary cripples. They’re people I’ve decided are cool enough to call me cripple. But the most important thing to remember about this distinction is that it’s not transferable. If I make you an honorary cripple and you go call another cripple a cripple and they get pissed, you can’t get out of it by saying I said it was okay. No, the title of honorary cripple must be repeatedly and individually earned, one cripple at a time.

The “n” word seems to have undergone a similar reclamation. Lots of black people call themselves and others that often. But I don’t think there’s such a thing as an honorary “n".
Nobody’s ever told me it’s okay to call them "n". Maybe I’m just not cool enough.

But I don’t think any reclamation like that has happened yet with the “r” word. I’ve heard black people say stuff to each other like, “What’s up, my ‘n’?” But I’ve never heard one ID person say to another, “What’s up, my ‘r’?”

Too soon? I don't know. But maybe someday some stuff like that will happen. Maybe someday I’ll be cool enough for an ID person to make me an honorary “r”. I’d be so proud.



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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Governor is a Total Prick When it Comes to Cripples Awareness Day at the Old Ballpark

There’s an organization with a mission of curing that condition which makes me and a whole bunch of other people crippled. They have lots of events intended to raise funds and/or awareness.

Every year several members and supporters attend a major league baseball game. And everybody in the group gets a Cure t-shirt to wear to the game. And seeing so many people wearing those shirts at the old ballpark raises awareness among all the other fans about the terrible physical condition that ails us and the need to cure it. And everybody has fun, too, in theory at least.

I won’t be going. I wish them well, but there are more than just physical things ailing me. I’m more interested in drawing attention to the political things ailing me. And the biggest political thing ailing me right now is that the governor is a total prick when it comes to cripples.

Exactly how that manifests, I’ll spare you the details. The point is, I wonder how the major league baseball team would react if I approached them about holding a The Governor is a Total Prick When it Comes to Cripples Awareness Day. And everybody from our group who attends receives a t-shirt that says The Governor is a Total Prick When it Comes to Cripples. And seeing so many people wearing those shirts at the old ballpark raises awareness among all the other fans about the terrible political condition that ails us and the need to cure it. And each child under 10, as an additional keepsake, receives a piñata of the governor that’s full of shit.

My guess is that the major league baseball team would not be inclined to sanction such an event, even sans the piñatas.

The cure group does a lot of other events throughout the year, like golf outings. Maybe I could follow that up with The Governor is a Total Prick When it Comes to Cripples Day at the country club.

That idea probably won’t be greeted too warmly either. I probably won’t find any corporate sponsors. This all really sucks because it’s just as important to cure cripples of what ails us politically as it is to cure us of what ails us physically. Why doesn’t anybody care about that? Or maybe they all think that the best way to stop the governor from being a total prick when it comes to cripples is to make it so there are no cripples for him to be a total prick to.


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Friday, July 13, 2018

Wheelchairs (and Stuff Like That) Should be Free

So there I was, attending this trade show featuring goods and services for cripples. It’s like the Auto Show for cripples except the only autos on display there are cripple accessible vans. Nothing James Bond would drive.

Also, at the cripple trade show, there aren’t gorgeous models in tight, sequined dresses selling stuff like catheters. All the salespeople wear polo shirts emblazoned with their company logo.


The guys who work for the company that made my wheelchair wore black polo shirts. They had several of their spiffiest, new, never-been-driven motorized wheelchairs on display. I heard the head sales guy say to another, “Hey, what happened to the guy that took off with that wheelchair?” It seemed that a few minutes earlier, while all the sales guys were busy schmoozing customers, some guy who wasn’t even in a wheelchair in the first place hopped into one of the display chairs and took it for a test drive.

“I don’t know,” said another sales guy. “Last time I saw, he went that way.”

So the sales force fanned out in different directions looking for the guy who made off with the chair. I was excited because I appeared to be witnessing a brilliant heist! I imagined the guy nonchalantly slipping into the wheelchair and disappearing into a crowd of about 200 other people in wheelchairs. And then he exits the convention hall just as casually and rolls right into the waiting, getaway accessible cripple van.

I was rooting for him to pull it off because I think wheelchairs and stuff like that (catheters, hearing aids, etc.) should be free. I guess that makes me a socialist. Cool if it does. I is what I is.

But shit like that is expensive as hell and it’s not like cripples are buying it because we’re bored and we don’t know what else to do with all of our disposable income. It’s not like we're buying a pet giraffe. We can’t live without it.

So any time a cripple can figure out a way to get what they need without relinquishing a limb or reproductive organ to pay for it, I’m all in on that. I swear to God I once saw a crippled woman rolling down the sidewalk in a clunky scooter and it sure looked like one of those scooters they have for customers to use at big box stores. I fantasized about her driving out of the store and never looking back, triumphantly saying to herself, “Fuck you, Medicaid!”

I hoped the cart she swiped was from Walmart. It’s the same way I feel about bank robbing. If it’s a big fat fucking corporate bank like Chase, then I’m inclined to cheer for the bank robbers. The only thing that sucks about it is that poor, innocent mopes who work as tellers and security guards get traumatized in the process. But they say that soon all those jobs will be done by robots so when that day comes I’ll for sure be with the bank robbers Who gives a shit how many robots get shot?

The sales guys returned looking forlorn. No sign of the wheelchair thief. The head sales guy said to inform security. APB: Be on the lookout for someone in a wheelchair! Taser all cripples! If anyone jumps out of their wheelchair and runs, tackle him!

But then the sales guys all exhaled in relief as the thief returned. He apologized. He said he just thought it might be fun to try out a motorized wheelchair. He didn’t mean to scare anyone.

I was so disappointed.



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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Frequent Flyer Cripples


One time before I boarded a plane to fly to Washington D.C., I ate a burrito at the airport food court. And then, as I sat buckled in my seat waiting for takeoff, I said to myself, “Why the hell did you do that?” I’ve never taken a shit one a commercial airliner, but I’m told it’s quite the cramped experience. I’m told that if you’re more than six feet tall and you sit down on the bowl, your knees press against the back of the door. So I wonder what big-time basketball stars do when they’re not flying on private jets with custom–designed bathrooms. Do they shit with the door open? Does everybody in first class see a pair of long, hairy, bare legs protruding from the bathroom, with pants down around the ankles?

I’m in the same boat with those guys. I’ve never been in an airliner bathroom because, first of all, when I fly they take my wheelchair away and toss it in with the luggage down below. So when I fly I have a two-step preparation ritual. I dehydrate myself and pray.

When I ate that burrito, it suddenly occurred to me what might happen if that burrito started barking within me. There might well be a headline that read, “Flight Forced to Make Emergency Landing in Cleveland Because Dumbass Cripple Ate a Burrito.”

Fortunately, I summoned up all my powers of Zen mind and bowel control and we landed in D. C. without incident. But I don’t fly that much. Maybe once or twice a year. And I wondered how the hell cripples who are frequent flyers manage.

So I talked to this paraplegic guy who says he flies somewhere pretty much every week. He catheterizes himself every three hours. So he always tries his damndest to get a window seat because in the crammed coach section of a commercial flight, that’s the closest thing you can get to a private space. And when the three-hour mark rolls around, he discreetly pulls out a blanket, puts it over his head like a kid reading a porn magazine in bed with a flashlight, and he catheterizes himself. Almost every time, he says, there’s someone sitting in the seat right next to him while he does it.

I don’t think I’ll ever become a frequent flyer unless I’m rich enough to always fly premium first class, which means I have the first class section all to myself. Even then, I won't eat a burrito.


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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Parable of the Man with a Broken Arm

There once was a man who broke his arm.

What did he do about it? Well the first action step that crossed his mind was maybe he ought to go to the doctor and get it fixed. But he soon thought better of that because getting his arm fixed would most likely require that he wear a cast. And with casts come stigma. When you wear a cast, that’s the first thing everybody sees. They can’t look past the cast and see the person wearing it. Casts make people who don’t have broken arms feel uncomfortable. Casts remind them that their arms are breakable, too. Casts are a symbol of weakness and vulnerability. Casts send the message that we are broken, we are lesser than we once were. Case in point: Two men apply for a job. The men are identically qualified. But one man has a cast on his arm and the other doesn’t. Which man do you think will get the job? The one without the cast, of course.

The man with a broken arm knew the devastating power of stigma, so he thought it prudent to avoid all contact with stigma at all cost. So he decided the best course of action was to pretend as if he didn’t have a broken arm. In other words, he vowed to overcome his broken arm. He would rise above it!

And so he carried on with business as usual. Of course, it soon became obvious to everyone around him that he had a broken arm. But the courageous way he dealt with it made him an object of admiration among those who don’t have broken arms. He may have had a protruding bone, but did he ever complain about it? Not one iota! He never once asked for special treatment or a free pass. He didn’t go around playing the broken arm card. He didn’t shove his broken arm in everyone’s face. He was the kind of man who didn’t let having a broken arm define him. His broken arm didn’t seem to matter to him. So why should it matter to anyone else?
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So the man with a broken arm pressed on. Nothing could temper his spirit and determination. Not even gangrene. But, sadly, the man with a broken arm eventually died. The cause of death was complications from a broken arm. But at least he died with dignity.



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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Iron Man

Greg and I pulled up to the drive-thru ordering board at White Castle. We placed our order. We drove up to the window and paid. The young woman took the money, gave him change, handed him the white paper bag and said, “I gave you both the senior discount.”

At first I was offended by her presumptuousness. How dare she accuse me of being a senior, even though I am! Shouldn’t she at least card me first? But I soon realized what a silly attitude that was. Why should being called a senior make me feel insulted? And what terrible offense did this young woman commit? She gave me something for a little less money.

And the more I thought about it, the more I felt blessed to be at White Castle receiving the senior discount. I thought about all the doctors who examined me as a kid. I don’t think any one of them would have bet a dime that I’d live past age 30. And here I am today not only an old crippled man but an old crippled man who is still healthy and hearty enough to be able to eat White Castle food without getting the shits or anything!


That’s a feat worthy of Guinness World Records consideration, don’t you think? I know strong young people in the prime of life who can’t endure the rigors of digesting White Castle. Call me Iron Man!

I have a birthday coming up soon and I think I’ll celebrate by having lunch at White Castle. And I’ll invite the media. I’ll put out a press release: Crippled senior demonstrates his amazing vitality by eating lunch at White Castle without feeling any of the infamous consequences, except the inevitable buyer’s remorse. It’ll be one of those inspiring public interest stories, like when a 90-year-old man runs a marathon.

The reporter sticks a microphone in my face after asking me the obligatory question: What is the secret of my longevity and resiliency? I have a one-word answer: “Orneriness!’’ I was fortunate to inherit my mother’s ornery gene.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Billy and His Pinkie Toe


Nursing home abuse and neglect? Call us!

That interstate billboard made me wonder whatever happened to Billy and his pinkie toe. Billy was a quadriplegic in a nursing home. The skin on his pinkie toe was so badly broken down that the toe had to be amputated. I hooked him up with a law office like the one on the billboard. It wasn’t hard to find one. There are lots of law offices like these advertising on interstate billboards and on commercials during reruns of television shows like Rawhide.

In a way, Billy was fortunate. If you’re a quad looking to sue your way out of a nursing home, an infected pinkie toe is probably the best way to go about it. Quads don’t have much use for their pinkie toes. So I bet if you asked a quad which body part they’d sacrifice to be able to sue a nursing home, that’s the one most would choose. But it also cuts the other way. The nursing home’s lawyers can say, “Oh big deal. He’s a quad! If nobody told him his pinkie toe was missing, he wouldn’t even know it was gone. His pain and suffering is zero and that’s exactly what his compensation should be.”

The nursing home’s lawyers were playing that game with Billy’s lawyers so I don’t know how much money Biily ultimately received. But his infected toe wasn’t the worst of it. He was abused and neglected in far greater ways. Every time I saw him, he was in bed, alone in a dim room with a window that had a scenic view of a brick wall. And the nursing home took all his Social Security money, leaving him 30 a month. How abusive is that? And even if anybody ever did bother to get him out of bed and into his wheelchair, if he wanted to go anywhere outside of the nursing home he would’ve needed a doctor’s permission to do so, even though he was a grown fucking man! And don’t get me started about the food!

But if I’d tried to hook Billy up with a lawyer to sue the nursing home for that kind of abuse and neglect, it wouldn’t have been so easy. You can't sell a jury on that stuff. I’ve never heard a lawyer on one of those Rawhide rerun commercials say, “Are you in a nursing home? Do they leave you in bed all day? Do you need a doctor’s permission to go outside of the nursing home even though you’re a grown fucking man? And don’t get me started about the food! If you’ve suffered from this kind of abuse and neglect, call us!"

I’m sure the abuse and neglect referred to on the interstate billboard was of the pinkie toe variety. I don’t think Billy ever collected a cent for his real pain and suffering.


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Monday, June 4, 2018

On Cripple Do-it-Yourself Gadgets and Service Animals


I don’t have much interest in elaborate cripple do-it-yourself gadgets and service animals. I’ve always felt like they we’re more trouble than they’re worth.

For every obstacle there is out there in the world, somebody will try to invent a gadget to empower a cripple to overcome that obstacle alone. For instance, when I was a criplet, I remember occupational therapy sessions were they had me fiddling with various gadgets designed to empower me to put on my own socks. There were rods with various hooks and clamps on the end. There were specially designed socks with elastic extension loops on them.

But then I’d go home and have my mother put my socks on me, just like always. I felt the same way about going to occupational therapy as I did about going to church. It didn’t have much relevance but I did it anyway because some adults told me to.

Most cripple do-it-yourself gadgets aren’t very versatile. They tend to serve one purpose only so in order to take on every obstacle I encounter I’d have to lug around hundreds of gadgets. And who wants to do that? Besides that, theses gadgets usually cost a zillion buck a piece. So fuck it. My philosophy has always been if I can’t do something myself, I’ll get someone to do it for me.

That’s why I never seriously entertained the idea of getting a service dog. I love the hell out of dogs, but there’s very little a service dog can do for me, except maybe pick stuff up off the ground. I’m not going through all the effort and cost of maintaining a dog just for that. I’ll get a human to do it.

But then one day there I was, caught up in the inevitable situation where my cavalier attitude toward self-sufficiency would come back to bite me in the ass. I was rolling through downtown Chicago when lo and behold, there on the sidewalk in front of me was a ten dollar bill!

What would I do? I couldn’t bend down to pick it up. If I’d taken occupational therapy more seriously, I would probably be equipped with a picker-upper gadget just perfect for this occasion. Or if I had a service dog, I could probably say, “Fetch it, boy! That’s a good boy! Now put it in daddy’s wallet.” And I wasn’t accompanied by another human either, which was probably a good thing. Because then there would’ve been an ethical dilemma. Whose ten dollar bill is it? The spotter or the retriever? I would’ve felt compelled to offer to split it.

And when there’s free money there for the taking, nobody can just move on and leave it for the next guy. Well maybe you can, but I can’t. I don’t have that kind of fortitude.

Ah but never fear. You know me. My middle name is Resourceful. So when the next pedestrian came by, I said, “Excuse me. Can you help me? I dropped my ten dollar bill.”

He picked it up and handed it to me. “Thank you ,” I said. “ Clumsy me.”


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